Nigeria striker Victor Anichebe’s Premier League club, Sunderland, have been relegated to the Championship despite the current 2016/2017 season still three weeks away from conclusion.
Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI looks back at the five Super Eagles players whose clubs were demoted to the Championship after poor seasons in the top flight…
FINIDI GEORGE (Ipswich Town, 2001/2002)
Former Super Eagles winger Finidi George was a one-time player of Ipswich Town but the Tractor Boys suffered relegation in the 2001/2002 season along with Derby County and Leicester City.
The club had qualified for the UEFA Cup the previous season after finishing fifth in the table behind Liverpool.
There was huge expectation from the club as a result of what they achieved the previous season.
The club then managed by George Burley however won just one of their first 18 matches at the start of the 2001/2002 season, they then won seven out of their next eight games but another disappointing run culminated in their relegation on the final day of the season with a 5-0 thrashing against Liverpool.
Finidi, £3.1m signing from Mallorca, played 25 Premier League matches overall and scored six goals that season.
Finidi’s two-year contract ended in June 2003 after a season in the second-tier with Ipswich where he scored once in the ten matches he played.
IFEANYI UDEZE (West Bromwich Albion, 2002/2003)
Former Super Eagles left-back Ifeanyi Udeze joined West Bromwich Albion in the 2003 January transfer window on loan.
Udeze played eleven Premier League games between January and May for the Baggies who were relegated at the end of the season.
West Brom finished 19th in the table and conceded the most goals in that season, 65, alongside Sunderland.
YAKUBU AIYEGBENI (Blackburn Rovers, 2011/2012)
Blackburn Rovers were relegated in the 2011/2012 season with former Nigeria international Yakubu Aiyegbeni unable to lift his club.
The ‘Yak’ scored 17 league goals and made two assists for Steve Kean’s team but was not willing to play in the Championship with the 1994/1995 league champions.
Aiyegbeni had previously played for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Leicester City.
The striker who was in Nigeria’s 2010 World Cup squad signed for Chinese club Guangzhou R&F on a three-year contract after departing Rovers.
NWANKWO KANU (West Bromwich Albion, 2005/2006)
Former Super Eagles captain and two-time African Footballer of the Year Nwankwo Kanu signed for West Bromwich Albion after leaving Arsenal where he had won two Premier League and two FA Cup titles.
West Brom were just promoted to the top flight in the summer of 2004.
The club escaped relegation on the final day of the season aptly termed ‘the great escape’.
West Brom were not so lucky the following season despite some inspiring performances from Kanu, like the memorable goal he scored against his former Arsenal on October 15, 2005 in a 2-1 win.
Kanu made 58 appearances for West Brom in all competitions in two seasons, scoring nine goals. His West Brom contract ended at the end of the 2005/2006 relegation season and he did not sign a new one.
VICTOR ANICHEBE (Sunderland, 2016/2017)
Victor Anichebe has played 17 matches in the Premier League and scored thrice in Sunderland’s current campaign.
Their demotion to the second tier of English football was effectively confirmed on April 29 in the 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light.
The relegation of the Black Cats to the Championship has already been confirmed with four matches still to be played before the end of the season although they won the last of their matches on Saturday, May 6 2-0 at Hull..
The team managed by David Moyes are bottom of the table with 24 points.
A knee injury that ruled him out for about 10 weeks stopped Anichebe from scoring more to perhaps help his team escape relegation.
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